What To Do On Thanksgiving In NYC

What to Do on Thanksgiving in NYC? Festive Guide

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

Having the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in the bustling city of New York is truly unforgettable. I can still vividly remember my own Thanksgiving adventure in the Big Apple.

The city comes alive with a unique blend of traditions and modernity. 

While I won’t overwhelm you with fancy words, I can share some genuine insights on what to do on Thanksgiving in NYC. 

So, keep reading as I share how to make the most of this holiday in the city that never sleeps.

10 Amazing Things You Can Do On Thanksgiving In NYC

1. Go To Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving  Parade

One of the most enjoyable activities to do on Thanksgiving in NYC is going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. 

The parade is a very popular event that people from all over the world come to see. Large floats, marching bands, famous celebrities, and huge balloons float through the streets. 

“New York is made up of millions of different people, and they all come here looking for something.”

Lindsey Kelk, British Writer and Journalist

The atmosphere is filled with excitement and cheer as everyone gathers to watch. But where can you watch Macy’s Thanksgiving parade for free?

2. Try Ice Skating At Central Park

The famous Wollman Rink becomes a winter wonderland during the holidays, where you can glide on the ice with the stunning NYC skyline. 

Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, everyone can enjoy this magical experience. 

The chilly air, beautiful lights, and joyful atmosphere make it a perfect activity for making special memories with your loved ones.

3. Watch The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Show

Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Show is a famous event that draws crowds from all over. They light up this amazing tree with thousands of twinkling lights when it gets dark. 

People gather to sing carols, and the whole area is happy. 

4. Have A Window Shopping Along Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue Street becomes even more magical during the holiday season, with stores showcasing beautiful and creative window decorations. 

From Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman to luxury brands like Tiffany & Co. [1] and Cartier, you’ll be mesmerized by the elaborate and festive displays. 

Check out these things you can be thankful for on Thanksgiving here.

5. Holiday Shopping At Union Square

Holiday Shopping At Union Square

Enjoy the exquisite holiday shopping experience at Union Square during Thanksgiving in NYC. 

Immerse yourself in the lively ambiance and festive atmosphere as you explore the market, adorned with magical lights and delightful scents. 

Discover a treasure trove of handmade crafts and delicious treats, perfect for gifting your loved ones. 

6. Watch Thanksgiving Football With The New York Giants

Watching football is one of the best things to do on Thanksgiving in NYC, especially if you root for the New York Giants. 

You can either head to MetLife Stadium to watch the game live or find a cozy sports bar to catch the action on TV. 

Find out which football team will not be playing on Thanksgiving Day game here.

7. Indulge In Delicious Hot Chocolate

On Thanksgiving in NYC, one fun thing to do is to sip on delicious hot chocolate. It’s a great way to warm up as the weather gets colder. 

“In NYC, Thanksgiving is a time when the city’s lights shine brighter, and the spirit of giving warms even the coldest days.”

Howkapow Gift Site

You can obtain hot chocolate [2] anywhere in the city, whether you prefer it plain or topped with marshmallows and candy. Cozy cafes and busy pastry shops offer this rich and creamy treat.

Check out these things to do during Thanksgiving besides eating here.

8. Magical Nutcracker Performance At Lincoln Center

Celebrate Thanksgiving in NYC by experiencing the magical Nutcracker show at Lincoln Center. It’s one of the most popular activities during this festive time. 

A magnificent and unforgettable event awaits you as the tale of Clara and her Nutcracker prince is performed live.

Take advantage of this iconic holiday tradition at the grand Lincoln Center, as it’s a delight for locals and tourists.

9. Explore NYC’s Top Restaurants

You can enjoy a fantastic meal at some of New York City’s finest restaurants on Thanksgiving. Places like Victory Garden Cafe put together special menus for this day. 

They serve everything from classic turkey dinners with all the trimmings to more unique dishes. 

These restaurants are known for their great service and nice atmospheres, making your Thanksgiving meal feel extra special.

Also Read: Where Did The Most Expensive Thanksgiving Dinner Recorded Take Place?

10. Holiday Entertainment In The Theater District

Theater District of NYC

Experience the joy of the holidays by watching fantastic shows in the famous Theater District of NYC. 

One must-see is the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular, from late November to early January. 

This incredible show stars the world-famous Rockettes, known for their amazing dance moves. 

Related Post: 10 Things You Can Do On Thanksgiving Without A Family


Is it a good idea to go to NYC for Thanksgiving?

Thanks to the pleasant weather, November can be a favorable time to explore New York City. However, remember that Thanksgiving ushers in peak crowds and higher prices. 

Despite this, if you’re prepared for the hustle and bustle, Thanksgiving in NYC offers a vibrant atmosphere with numerous events, delectable cuisine, and the renowned Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it an exciting choice for holiday enthusiasts.

Is traveling on Thanksgiving Day cheaper?

Yes, traveling on Thanksgiving Day itself is often a cost-effective and less crowded option, but sometimes it can be expensive. 

So, book flights farther from the holiday instead to help you avoid crowds and higher prices, making Thanksgiving Day a smart choice for budget-conscious travelers.

Wrapping Up

My trip during Thanksgiving in New York City is an unforgettable experience that blends tradition and modernity in a uniquely captivating way.

I had the privilege of witnessing the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

The beauty and creativity of the parade’s floats and balloons left me stunned, reminding me of the magic of the holiday season. 

Besides, attending a New York Giants football game on Thanksgiving was an exciting tradition, uniting fans from all walks of life in celebration. 

These two experiences, among the many other fantastic city activities, make Thanksgiving in NYC truly remarkable and heartwarming.


Kimberlee Johnson
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